Tacita Dean’s big year makes the case for the warmth of film

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BALZAC had some unusual ideas about photography, a new invention in his time. The Frenchman believed that all objects were “made up of a series of ghostly images superimposed in layers to infinity,” and that the camera captured one of those layers. Tacita Dean’s eerie new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, on until May 28th, in which flickering cinematic screens float in the middle of dark rooms, like layers caught in suspension, seems to encourage such spiritual notions as Balzac’s.

Ms Dean was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998, and found success as part of the generation of so-called Young British Artists. But unlike her contemporaries Damian Hirst and Tracy Emin, Ms Dean is not quite a household name. Her standing in the art world, though, is immense. It would be hard to find another living artist able to pull off the trick that Ms Dean has done: three shows at once in three of London’s most important cultural institutions, each focusing on a different genre:…Continue reading

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